Saturday, May 12, 2007


du·al·i·ty [doo-al-i-tee]: –noun 1. a dual state or quality 2. The quality or character of being twofold

Mason & his friend have recently discovered this word. They like how it sounds when it comes after 'intriguing;' they cup their chins in their hands and say it, pretending to be sophisticated thinkers, or maybe evil nemeses of the Justice League, I'm not exactly sure. What makes it all the funnier is knowing they don't actually understand the word. I, on the other hand, live with it everyday. And not just with my split personality disorder.

Imagine a job where the conversations meander from Beavis & Butthead-like exchanges about who boned whom (their verb, my pronouns) to heated disputes about whether or not there is a secret cave near a popular local lake. During both discussions there are lots of goofy boy guffaws and light shoving matches. And these are the same kids talking within a fifteen minute time span. Duality.

One moment I am having an intelligent exchange with a student about a striking image in a poem, and less than five minutes later he is blankly staring at me, saying he doesn't understand what I mean when I say "It's not time to go yet. Please sit." Duality.

I don't mean to imply it's only boys who have this strange affliction. (Pointed silence while I scan my memory). Okay, here we go. A group of girls decided, by secret vote before school I'm sure, that I was the Enemy Teacher and greeted every direction of mine with rolled eyes and deeply put-out sighs. Until one morning when one of them announced, "I like your shoes." No exclamation point, no squeaky falseness in the voice. I was dubious; I checked to see that they were tied, dog poop- and toilet paper-free. "Thanks," I said, politely but without overwhelming gratitude; I didn't want to seem desperate. Somehow I had become acceptable. I have no idea what brought on the change - full moon, west winds, hormones, who knows? But I am cautiously grateful. Duality, you know.

Recently, I revealed to my poetry class a glimpse at my own duality. I introduced them to Dorothy Parker, whom I consider something of an alter ego. There were some surprised faces (the others either read me well or weren't paying attention; neither of these responses amazes me) as we listened to her poems "One Perfect Rose" and "Resume," both rather dark and sardonic. Perhaps you, too, are surprised. Or not. Or haven't been paying attention. Nevermind.

Duality. It's fun to talk about, especially with a thoughtful face, chin cupped in hand. Give it a go.